For most of 2022, Samsung was unchallenged in the foldable phone market outside of China. That was – of course – until the end of the year when other companies started adding some heat to the flexible smartphone segment.

Motorola launched the latest version of its Razr to compete with the Galaxy Z Flip 4, soon followed by Oppo’s own take on the flip form in 2023, and now Honor has unveiled the Magic VS to compete with the Galaxy Z Fold 4. It’s not available in Europe just yet, but we’ve had our hands on an early pre-production unit and early signs are very promising for when it eventually lands on store shelves.

Honor Magic VS hardware photo 17

Honor Magic vs

Honor’s foldable flagship has powerful internals and two big, vibrant displays. It folds flush too, offering a very different experience to the Galaxy Z Fold.


  • Big external displays
  • Solid, thin magnesium alloy frame
  • Flagship specs and fast charging

  • Software not well-optimized for folding screen
  • Internal screen not completely flat


  • 160.3 x 141.5 x 6.1mm (unfolded)
  • 160.3 x 72.6 x 12.9mm (folded)
  • Glass front and back – magnesium alloy and titanium alloy frame – 261g

What’s interesting about Honor’s approach to this book-style foldable is that the company has taken an approach that’s more like its former parent company, Huawei’s, foldable than Samsung’s. That’s to say it’s got quite a big display on the outside, and a larger one inside, and that means it’s quite a big phone. It’s 5.5mm wider than the Z Fold 4 when shut, and more than 11mm wider when open.

For a device of this style, it’s quite slim though, and that really helps the phone feel less chunky than you might expect. That’s only aided further by the fact that the two halves of the display close virtually flush. There’s no gap near the hinge, and so there’s that sense that it’s an even thickness across the entire phone. It doesn’t get wider at the spine like Samsung’s.

It feels pretty sturdy too, thanks to the durable metal framing around the edges, and a hinge built from titanium alloy which seems to open and shut smoothly on first impressions.

This particular model features a frosted glass rear, but Honor will be selling vegan leather options too, so you will find there’s a slight difference in weight and dimensions depending on whether you go glass or fake leather.

What we do like is that it ships with a rear case/cover that uses a light adhesive down one side to stick it to the back of the phone. It doesn’t leave any residue when removed but has a grippy texture to ensure the phone is really easy to hold and keep hold of when in use.

Honor’s hinge is a little different to older folding phones, in that Honor has completely rethought the design to take out a lot of the complicated small parts like gears, instead casting a simpler mechanism and one that feels nice and smooth during opening and shutting. It will hold at various angles, although not as reliably and confidently as Samsung’s hinge. Still, it offers enough versatility that it will hold at all the most useful angles.

If there’s any negative with the hinge, it’s that it doesn’t feel as though it completely ‘locks’ in place when fully open and so – as a result – the display doesn’t feel or look perfectly flat. It has a slight angle on the left side of the screen. It doesn’t massively impact using the phone, thankfully, but it did leave us checking to make sure we’d opened the phone fully more than once.

Display(s) and software

  • 7.9-inch folding OLED display – 2272 x 1984 resolution – 90Hz refresh
  • 6.45-inch exterior OLED display – 2560 x 1080 resolution – 120Hz refresh
  • 1.07 billion colours
  • MagicOS 7.1 based on Android 13

As display specs go there, the two screens on the Honor Magic VS should offer top-tier performance. A big part of the appeal of this phone is the size of them.

Honor Magic VS hardware photo 10

The front display offers a large 6.45-inch panel that’s much closer to a standard smartphone aspect ratio than the long, narrow screens we’ve seen from Samsung. It’s not quite 18:9, but at 21.3:9 the size and aspect ratio will make it a lot less cramped than the main competition.

It’s much more useful for doing everyday tasks than the Galaxy Z Fold’s. Those times when you don’t need the big internal display, or you’re in a hurry and want to reply to something quickly, feel less like a compromise on this screen we think.

As for the internal display, that measures nearly 8 inches and offers a large surface area. It’s coated with a special anti-reflective coating to help avoid one of the biggest problems with plastic-covered screens: reflections. Of course, being quite glossy, it will still reflect light, but the display does seem visible and relatively clear even with light directed at it. Plus, the hinge design means the crease in the middle of the screen is not too obvious when the screen is on. You can still tell it’s there though, especially if you run a thumb or finger across the middle of the display during general use.

Honor Magic VS hardware photo 18

It’s too early to give our full thoughts on the screen performance, but in our early testing so far, we’ve been pretty happy with the screen. It’s vibrant, colour-rich and offers smooth animations. There’s HDR10+ support, 90Hz refresh rates and a bright, vibrant OLED panel. It’s got a lot going for it.

As for software, on the global variant, it’s Honor’s MagicOS 7.1 running on top of Android 13. We’ve used it for a few days already, and we can see there appears to be something missing from it. Most notably: there’s no option to turn on an app drawer, so all of your apps get splattered across the home screens and you have to spend time organizing them. Similarly, Honor hasn’t done much to optimize the user interface for when the screen might sit at an angle. There’s no ‘Flex mode’ like Samsung and Oppo’s devices, which tweak the interface to make it usable when sat down with the screen angled upwards.


  • Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
  • 12GB/512GB
  • 5000mAh battery – 66W wired charging

Internally, there’s everything you need to get flagship performance. At least, on paper. That means the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor is running the show and – if it’s like other phones we’ve tested with that platform – it should mean really fast and efficient performance. Early signs are good, with all apps and games we’ve tested so far loading quickly, and without much in the way of heat felt after periods of gameplay.

It’s joined by 12GB RAM and 512GB storage. Again, that means plenty of memory for efficient performance and lots of storage space for files, media and apps.

Honor Magic VS hardware photo 12

When you add the 5000mAh battery to the picture, it really brings home the fact that this is trying to offer you all you’d expect from a proper top-tier Android phone, without any compromises. Our first few days have seen really good battery life from the Magic VS, standby time, in particular, seems really good, so you should rest assured that when your phone is sitting doing nothing, it won’t siphon off your battery juice. Add 66W wired fast charging to the picture and the only thing you’re really missing is wireless charging.


  • 50MP f/1.9 main camera (IMX800 sensor)
  • 50MP f/2.0 ultrawide camera – macro mode
  • 8MP f/2.4 telephoto zoom – 3x optical

We haven’t had time to thoroughly test the cameras, but yet again, it’s got everything that it needs – on paper. There’s a primary 50-megapixel camera with a big Sony sensor for high-quality images with lots of detail, dynamic range and colour.

Honor Magic VS hardware photo 9

That main lens is joined by two others: an ultrawide which also doubles as a macro. Again, that’s 50 megapixels, so Honor hasn’t gone down the route of offering a useless low-resolution macro camera. Add a 3x optical zoom telephoto camera with an 8-megapixel sensor and that means you get the variety and versatility in focal lengths to suit most conditions.

First impressions

There’s no doubt that Honor is setting this phone up to be a no-compromise flagship folding smartphone. It’s powered by the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, has a beefy 5000mAh battery and a strong triple camera system without any low-resolution junk cameras.

We think the big draw for this phone will be the big exterior screen that offers an experience very similar to a traditional smartphone. It’s not skinny, narrow and cramped like Samsungs, and the hinge design means the phone shuts completely flush too, delivering quite a sleek footprint for a phone which is pretty big.

Although it misses wireless charging and an official waterproof rating, the rest of this phone sets it up to be a strong performer and – but without the optimized software – it may not be quite ready to be a genuine competitor to Samsung’s flagship foldable.


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